06 - Fisheye Photography

After the complexity of 3D production, fisheye photography for the dome seems very straightforward. It is the simplest way to acquire images that are pre-warped for hemispheric projection.

Using a full frame camera (a Canon EOS 5D) and a fisheye lens (Sigma 8mm) we learned to capture circular fisheye images. If the camera is held at the same tilt as the dome, the image when projected will appear to surround the viewer with the point of view of the photographer. Since the resolution of the dome is much higher than resolution of HD video, stills taken with a DSLR provide better visual quality than video. Those stills can be shot as a time lapse sequence from a fixed camera position, creating a dramatic sense of place, motion, and time when projected in the dome.

 A 360 degree panorama can be stitched together from as few as six fisheye shots. We conducted a panorama workshop with Girls Club members on a trip to Mexico, using the PTGUI stitching software to easily create equirectangular photos. These odd looking photos can be mapped inside a sphere in the Unity game engine, and the viewer's POV moved inside that sphere to recreate the location of the photo series. We will explore this scene creation strategy further.